Concise Study on Modern Israel
The key to understanding the spiritual state of modern Israel, and of the modern Jewish people, is in understanding what God has already spoken concerning them in Bible times and how He has already acted towards them.
We know that God chose Abraham to raise up a people of his seed that He could use to demonstrate His ways to the world, to establish His proper worship among, and to ultimately bring forth His Messiah through. God only chooses one of Abraham’s multiple sons (Isaac) to continue that work through. He also then chooses one of Isaac’s sons (Jacob) to yet continue that work through. We know that God eventually changed Jacob’s name to Israel; and that Israel had twelve sons. The descendants of these twelve sons of Israel thus composed the twelve tribes of Israel. We know that Jacob and his sons went down into Egypt- and eventually the Egyptians enslaved their descendants. God brought them out of Egypt by the hand of His servant Moses at the Red Sea and led them into Canaan, the land which He had promised Abraham to give to his seed. In the wilderness between the Red Sea and Canaan, God made a covenant with the Israelites at Mount Sinai which involved promises to them that were conditioned on their obedience to His commandments. He gave them His Law at the same time. The Israelites rebelled against God and did not hearken to His voice when the time came for them to go into Canaan (see Numbers chapter 14). God thus made them to wander in the wilderness for another 38 years as a punishment for their disobedience (otherwise their journey in the wilderness would have only been a two year journey, but it became a 40 year journey). He raised up another generation in the wilderness which He brought into Canaan.
Right before He brought this generation into Canaan, He retold His Law to them (the Book of Deuteronomy means “second law” or “repeated law”). Chapter 18 of this book gives one of the most definite statements about the eventual coming of the Messiah and the curse that would be upon those who did not heed Him. At that time, He also gave warnings to them echoing what He had told them a long time ago at Mount Sinai (recorded in Leviticus chapter 26), about how though they would be blessed as a people if they hearkened to His Law and obeyed His voice; and of how they would be cursed as a people if they did not do so. Deuteronomy chapter 28 is basically a reiteration of this in different words. It is key to note that even though earthly blessings and curses were bigger factors in how God dealt with Israel as a nation under the Old (Sinai) Covenant, Deuteronomy chapter 28 still shows the principles and conditions for being in God’s grace which apply at all times. And we also see here how God would always deal with Israel as a nation. We see the principle of how Israel’s redemption would be made void if they continued to disobey God’s voice in Deuteronomy 28:68: “And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spoke unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.” And by the way, we see that principle applied to Christians in a spiritual sense under the New Covenant as well in 2 Peter 2:20-22 and many other Scriptures.
In the very final verses of the Old Testament Israel is left with this warning, which is the last prophetic statement in Scripture that God would make until John the Baptist showed up preaching as the forerunner to Christ, approximately 400 years later. We read in Malachi 4:4-6: “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb (Mount Sinai) for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” We know by what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11 that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of this; and we know by what was said of John the Baptist in Luke chapter 1 that this means John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah (which was also Malachi’s implication). So because of what God had already warned of in the Law of Moses, what was said in Malachi chapter 4 was a warning that God was going to destroy Israel as a nation if it did not walk in alignment with His Word and receive its Messiah when He came. The statement in Malachi 4:6 “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” is, more than anything, a reference to turning the hearts of the Israelites back to faithfully worshiping the true God who was faithfully worshiped by their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so that there would be an agreement in heart between the nation of Israel and the faithful men who were the foundations of their nation.
So then as we come to the ministry of John the Baptist, we have this key statement which he made that is recorded in Matthew 3:12, in connection with the coming Messiah’s great power and authority, and the need of his hearers to flee from the wrath to come and bring forth fruit worthy of repentance. “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” This statement is in an ultimate way talking about Judgment Day and its eternal implications. Yet on an earthly level, it also spoke of the imminent judgment of the nation of Israel if the nation in general did not repent and receive its Messiah (and we know from history that this judgment happened at the hands of the Romans in AD 70, about or exactly 40 years after John the Baptist began preaching). This was obviously meant as a preview of Judgment Day and of the wicked being cast into the eternal fire of hell. Hear then what Jesus said along the same lines during His public ministry. This was as He was entering Jerusalem less than a week before He was crucified.
Luke 19:41-44: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”
And then a few days later, while teaching at the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus said the following in Matthew chapter 21 in concluding a parable which He told in relation to Israel not bringing forth the righteous fruit which God expected and Israel’s imminent rejection of Himself.(He is the heir of God’s vineyard whom those which the vineyard was rented to should have been ashamed by when He came, and persuaded through to come to repentance, though they had rejected many previous messengers sent by the owner of the vineyard to call them to repentance). Matthew 21:43-44: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”
Israel in general, especially its leaders, rejected its Messiah then. And so, the kingdom of God was indeed taken away from them, meaning away from the nation of Israel and the Jewish leaders, and given to a nation bringing the fruit of righteousness, which is the (true, faithful) Christian church (not the professing church). But be careful here. The kingdom of God was taken away from the nation of Israel, but the true Christian church’s foundation is still the Jewish Scriptures, its original leaders the Apostles were Jews, and being a Jew who was taught the Law of Moses still would be a spiritual advantage. The problem with Israel as a nation is that they did not heed their own Scriptures; and thus, did not follow the truth which they professed to believe (see John 5:37-47). The faithful Christian church is indeed the true, spiritual Israel which is now disconnected from Israel as a political entity and the Jewish religious economy.
Take to heart then that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah who came in line with the Jewish Scriptures and in fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures. Remember how He was called by Simeon in Luke 2:32 “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” And remember how Jesus said in John 4:22 that salvation is of the Jews. Jews who reject Him miss salvation then because they are out of line with their own Scriptures and opposed to the God who raised Israel up as a nation. When the Jews rejected Jesus and delivered Him up to be crucified, they said (recorded in Matthew 27:25), “His blood be on us, and on our children.” So about 40 years later God brought the blood of Christ upon Israel and judged the unbelieving Jews in His wrath. An incredible number were killed by the Romans and many others died during the siege which happened prior to the Romans taking Jerusalem. Many others were captured and sold into slavery throughout the world. They had been given centuries of warning and much opportunity to repent. The Jewish Christians escaped this judgment because Jesus had warned His followers to flee Jerusalem when they saw it compassed with armies- and they did escape when the opportunity presented itself after this compassing happened. And those who look a bit deeper into history can find that the recovery of the Jews in the land of Judea in the decades after AD 70 eventually resulted in even more slaughter and oppression at the hands of the Romans. This had much to do with how the Jews followed false Messiahs (especially Simon Bar Kokhba) in rebellion and war against the Romans.
These things sealed God’s rejection of Israel as a nation and testified His wrath against the Jews for their unbelief in their King who had been sent to be their Savior. There is no good reason at all to believe that God’s attitude has ever changed towards the Jewish nation; and no reason to believe that His wrath has departed from Jews who reject their Messiah. His blood is still upon them. So is modern Israel, a nation composed mostly of unbelieving Jews, a nation under God’s favor? Of course not. Is it any more proper to bless Israel now than it was in AD 70 when God was pouring out His wrath upon them through the Romans for their disobedience to Him and their cruel rejection of their King? Of course not. They have never as a people fulfilled the requirements given in the Law of Moses for their re-entrance into God’s favor (i.e. grace). They continue to harden themselves against their King and reject His reign over them (see Leviticus 26:37-42). Closely related to that, the commonly mentioned concept that the Jews have a birthright privilege to the land of Israel is rebuked by God in Ezekiel 33:24-29 and many other passages in the Hebrew Bible.
So, what about Israel becoming a nation again in 1948 and the Jews returning in mass to the land? It’s hard to say exactly, but according to God’s own Word there is no way that they are a people in God’s favor. We know that sinners can prosper in their sin for a season. That is no sign that God has accepted them nor proof that they are being blessed by God due to His special favor upon them. There is no coincidence that professing Christians who believe in a Prosperity Gospel and professing Christians who bless modern Israel are highly synonymous (i.e. there is a strong overlap between those in these categories). Proverbs 17:15 says “ He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.” In light of this Scripture, and what we have already talked about, we should not justify nor bless Israel in its hardened and blind spiritual state. It is a nation yet at enmity with God. Though they bless Him with their lips, their heart is far from Him. They yet deal treacherously with the Father by essentially saying “we will not have this man to reign over us” in rejecting His Son Jesus Christ, the Holy and Just One, as their Messiah (see Luke 19:27).
Regarding Psalm 122: Praying for the peace of Jerusalem in this Psalm is connected to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. But God rejected Jerusalem in AD 70, His house is no longer there, and Jerusalem is no longer the center of His worship (see what Jesus said in Matthew 23:37-39 along these lines).
Modern supporters of Israel will often call criticism of Jews and/or modern Israel “antisemitism”, no matter how appropriate such criticism is. However, criticism and rebuke of Jews, and of the Jewish nation, can simply be rebuking the wicked without partiality and standing against Jewish supremacy. Jews can yet be saved if they will obediently repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Messiah in truth, identifying with Him against the stream of their own people’s rejection of Him. Yet nobody is so special to God because of their heritage that they can live in sin without condemnation. No one is above the law nor exempt from the terms of being in covenant with God. Any special privileges which the Jewish people have had will result in greater condemnation for them if they don’t improve their talents and live according to the truth which their own Scriptures testify of.
Many professing Christians also love to support Israel because of their own desire to have unconditional security. If the disobedient Jews are safe, then they think they are too. But if Jews who reject Christ are not safe from God’s wrath (and they are not), then disobedient professing Christians are not either.
1 Cor. 10:5-12: But with many of them (speaking of Israelites in the Hebrew Bible) God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
Since God has so dealt with the Jews before, He will yet deal with them now, since He never changes. And so will He deal with all who profess to know Jesus Christ.
Aaron’s email is: [email protected]